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Pakistan Slams Trump's 'Ignorant' Bin Laden Comments

  • RFE/RL

Pakistan responded to U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's vow to free a doctor who helped find Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan responded to U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's vow to free a doctor who helped find Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan has accused U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of being "ignorant" for demanding the release of a doctor who was jailed for helping the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hunt down Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Trump, a real estate billionaire who is the front-runner in the GOP's race for the presidential nomination, told Fox News last week that if elected, he would get Pakistan to free Shakil Afridi "in two minutes," because Islamabad receives a lot of aid from the United States.

"Contrary to Mr. Trump's misconception, Pakistan is not a colony of the United States of America," Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan said in an angry response on May 2. "He should learn to treat sovereign nations with respect."

Khan added that the "peanuts" that the United States has given Pakistan -- $13 billion in aid since 2001 -- "should not be used to threaten or browbeat" the country "into following Mr. Trump’s misguided vision of foreign policy."

Afridi's fate will be decided "by the Pakistani courts and the government of Pakistan and not by Mr. Donald Trump, even if he becomes the president of the United States," Khan said.

"Mr. Trump’s statement only serves to show not only his insensitivity, but also his ignorance about Pakistan," Khan said. "Pakistan is a country which has suffered much, and the cost it had to pay in supporting the U.S. over the years has been mind-boggling."

Khan's tongue-lashing for Trump may reflect a widely held view in Pakistan that U.S. voters are highly unlikely to elect him to be the next U.S. president.

Beyond the Bin Laden comments, Trump showed he takes a rather dark view of Pakistan in his interview with Fox News. He said he supported leaving the roughly 10,000 U.S. troops still based in Afghanistan instead of withdrawing them as planned by the end of 2017.

"I would stay in Afghanistan," he said. "It's probably the one place we should have gone in the Middle East because it's adjacent and right next to Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons."

The clash comes on the fifth anniversary of the U.S. killing of bin Laden,architect of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, during a secret raid in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad.

Washington views Afridi as a hero for helping to pinpoint bin Laden's whereabouts. But many in Pakistan view him as a traitor and he was sentenced in 2012 to 33 years in prison on charges of belonging to the militant group Lashkar-e Islam, which he denies.

That sentence was overturned, and he was charged in 2013 with murder relating to the death of a patient eight years earlier. He remains in jail.

Afridi has also been accused in Pakistan of running a fake vaccination campaign in which he purportedly collected DNA samples to help the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency track down bin Laden. He has not been charged over those allegations.

With reporting by The Washington Post and Reuters